Since May 2014, the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), as part of their Looking to the Future program, have carried out a number of public consultation papers regarding reforms to allow greater flexibility for solicitors and law firms, with the aim to make legal services more accessible to the public.

In August 2018, the SRA applied to the Legal Services Board (LSB) to approve their new regulatory arrangements which they are hoping to release during 2019. The answer from the LSB was expected within 28 days. However, the LSB has just extended their decision period to 90 days, meaning a ruling on the new SRA’s regulatory arrangements is now expected by November 5, 2018.

The reforms which have been suggested by the SRA include a new simpler and easier to understand handbook. The handbook will be reduced to only 130 pages (over 300 pages less than the current handbook) and will focus on improving the professional standards of solicitors and law firms. The SRA’s main aim is to remove any rules or regulations which are unnecessarily complex and which may restrict law firms, thereby allowing legal services to be more available to the wider public.

Key changes to the SRA Regulatory Arrangements

The Regulatory Arrangement changes which are set to be introduced on a phased basis through 2019 include:

    • New pricing transparency rules
    • Separate Codes of Conduct for firms and solicitors
    • More simplified set of accounts rules
    • Revised multi-disciplinary practices policy
    • Removal of restrictions on how solicitors can offer services, including allowing individual self-employed solicitors to offer reserved services to the public
    • Amendments to the qualified to supervised rules
    • Revised assessment of character suitability
    • Changes to training regulations
    • Loosening restrictions of individual self-employed solicitors
    • Changes to overseas practice rules
    • Widening practice address requirements from England and Wales to the whole of the UK
    • New authorisations of corporate owners and managers
    • Removal of property selling section
    • New enforcement strategy
  • Simplified and updated rules on investigation costs

Timeline of amendments to the SRA Handbook and Price Transparency Rules

It has been a long process, but the regulatory process of these reforms is near completion. This timeline of events highlights the proposed changes to the handbook and price transparency rules.

VinciWorks to release new SRA course

As soon as the LSB approve the SRA drafts, VinciWorks will be preparing a new SRA course covering all the changes to the SRA’s Regulatory Arrangements including and updated Handbook and Accounts Rules, which will be released in time for the 2019 regulatory changes. If you would like to know more about the changes, complete the short form below.